I've been writing about hockey since the late 1990s. First it was the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks and the Cincinnati Cyclones for the Cincinnati Post, and most recently with WCPO and the Blog of Brotherhood online.
People who believe there are no coincidences need look no further than Miami’s 2019-20 schedule to have that theory disproven.
The RedHawks’ slate for next season was recently
released, and they open against Bowling Green at Cady Arena on Oct. 6.
Coach Chris Bergeron left BGSU for Miami two weeks ago after nine years at the helm of that program.
The teams will play a home-and-home series, with Miami reciprocating on Dec. 30.
The RedHawks’ other non-conference opponents
are Ferris State, New Hampshire, Colgate and Connecticut. The former two will
play their series in Oxford, and Miami will travel to Colgate and UConn.
Miami opens NCHC play at North Dakota on Nov.
7-8. Minnesota-Duluth comes to Oxford the following weekend for the RedHawks’
first home league series of the season.
It’s not a particularly difficult
non-conference schedule for the RedHawks. Bowling Green is the only foe among
that group to make the NCAA Tournament this season, and Ferris State and
Colgate finished 2018-19 in the bottom 10 of the PairWise.
Connecticut was No. 45 and New Hampshire ended
the season 33rd. Miami tied for 37th.
That’s the message Chris Bergeron repeatedly delivered to a near-capacity group of alumni, players, fans and staff at Cady Arena on Monday after he was introduced as the next head coach of the Miami hockey team.
Embracing the word ‘Brotherhood’, Bergeron vowed to carry on those standards set by previous coach Enrico Blasi, with whom Bergeron played at Miami and later served as a RedHawks assistant coach under.
“And those expectations and standards and that
responsibility is real, and it’s not for everybody,” Bergeron said. “If you jump
in with both feet it will be the best four years of your life. And if that
responsibility – of being the best version of you on the ice and off – sounds
like too much, then don’t come here, because you won’t like it.”
Bergeron was officially welcomed as Miami’s
sixth head hockey coach in a press conference in the club seating area at Cady
Arena, where the man who last month led Bowling Green to its first NCAA
Tournament berth in three decades passionately laid out his plan for returning
Miami to Division I relevance.
“We’re going to draw a line in the sand and we’re
going to ask (the players) to pick a side on that line,” Bergeron said. “And I’m
not going to ask them to talk about it, I’m going to ask them to show, which
means finishing out the semester in the classroom, doing what you’re supposed
to do in the summer – if that means taking a class – and then getting to the
weight room with a purpose.”
That tough talk starkly contrasted with the emotional responses Bergeron gave to questions asked about Blasi, whose name was certain to come up since he had coached Miami for the past 20 seasons.
He seemed humbled by his selection to coach the
team he grew up playing for, and he was grateful to the point of nearly
breaking down at times.
At the same time, he nailed home the point that
hard work was ahead for his new team to right the ship that had been sinking
for several seasons.
It was important that he got both of those
Showing his appreciation for the opportunity to
coach at his alma mater was easy and natural.
Showing his determination to turning things around was essential with the players, season ticket holders and other alums in attendance. The fan base hasn’t been watching winning hockey for some time and are making the program suffer with their wallets.
The way Bergeron handled an incredibly difficult balancing act of emotions was amazing. He went from the verge of tears to seconds later joking about what his players are going to do to opponents that get in their way.
And it was genuine. That’s been Bergeron’s reputation all along, and it was on display in full force as he officially stepped into the lead role behind the bench.
“I want to be part of the first national championship hockey team at Miami, and that’s going to motivate us every day,” Bergeron said.
When Miami officially began the search for a new head hockey coach last month, Chris Bergeron’s name was the first on RedHawks fans’ collective tongues.
He went to Miami. He starred at Miami. He
played parts of five pro seasons down the street from Miami for IHL Cincinnati.
He was an assistant at Miami. The quality of work he did at Miami was fully
realized when he left Miami to become Bowling Green’s head coach. He won as a
head coach away from Miami.
So he seems like the logical choice to return
to Miami when its coaching gig becomes available, right?
It’s rarely that simple in these situations.
But in this case, it was. The completely obvious candidate to take over the reins got the job.
Chris Bergeron was officially named the sixth head coach in Miami hockey history on Friday.
And that’s definitely a good thing for the program as well as the school.
In addition to all of his credentials – being an assistant during both Miami Frozen Four appearances and pushing Bowling Green to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 29 years last month topping the list – he already bleeds Miami red.
He knows what it’s like to play in the NCAA Tournament donning the ‘M’, as he was captain of the first-ever Miami team to qualify in 1993.
And he was there in D.C. in 2009 when the
RedHawks came within a minute of a national championship and was on the bench
the next year, guiding them to another Frozen Four berth.
He’s already been there, done that with this program. He made the team better on the ice as a forward and again off the ice as an assistant coach.
And in his first Division I head coaching gig, he took a Bowling Green team that was at an all-time low point and returned it to relevance, winning at least 21 games each of the past five seasons including 25 in 2018-19.
He knows how to win, and he knows how to win at
Yes, selecting Bergeron to guide RedHawks
hockey through its next chapter was the obvious choice, but it was also the
One freshman has decided to turn pro, the coaching search has intensified and the home schedule for next season is out.
It’s just another typical week in another busy Miami off-season, which has produced as many headlines as the RedHawks’ games themselves since the end of 2017-18.
Jonathan Gruden signed with the Ottawa Senators earlier this week, meaning he is now officially a pro and will forego his final three years of NCAA eligibility.
Gruden dressed for all 38 of Miami’s games this
season, racking up three goals and 12 assists for 15 points, finishing with a minus-19
While very talented, the fourth-round pick turns
19 next month and still needs work in his all-around game, but he is listed on
AHL Belleville’s roster, so he may log some ice time for that team’s final week
and a half of regular season.
London holds his OHL rights, so that’s another
option for Ottawa.
Bowling Green head coach Chris Bergeron is reportedly “mulling over” an offer from Miami to take the same job in Oxford. Bergeron is an alum and was an assistant coach for the RedHawks for 10 seasons before taking over behind the Falcons’ bench in 2010.
Today, The Toledo Blade reported that Bowling
Green has offered Bergeron a new contract that would reportedly represent a
When Bergeron moved to BGSU, he inherited a
team that had 13 straight non-winning seasons and had not made the NCAA
Tournament since 1990.
The Falcons have won at least 21 games five
straight seasons and ended up with 25 in 2018-19, their highest total in 23
Bowling Green also snapped a 28-year NCAA
Tournament drought this season.
As a RedHawks assistant along with Jeff Blashill – now the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings – Bergeron helped pump in the recruits that made Miami such for a force for the first part of this millennium.
In addition to a 120-point career at Miami, Bergeron played parts of five seasons with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the now-defunct IHL, so he has ample ties to the area.
Seems like an ideal fit for Miami, and for Bergeron
it would an upgrade into a better league to a school with better facilities and
almost certainly better pay.
His resume is solid, and being an alum, this hire
could really stabilize the head coaching job in one of Miami’s core sports.
Bergeron is just 48 years old.
So what’s to mull?
Well, as we talked about in our last write-up,
the situation with the current assistants remains unclear.
Peter Mannino and Joel Beal were hired a year ago and haven’t been given a realistic chance to help turn Miami around.
Typically a new head coach hires his own assistants, so Mannino and Beal are likely in limbo and could be out of jobs unless somehow a condition of a Bergeron hire was that the current assistants remain.
The incoming recruiting class led by Mannino
and Beal appears solid, and most or all of their commits could go elsewhere if
there’s a completely new staff in place.
It’s a lose-lose situation if the assistants get the boot, as the program would lose a ton of freshman talent for 2019-20 and the optics would be horrible if Miami forces them to uproot their families for the second straight year.
That’s not a great situation to walk into for Bergeron. Or maybe there is discussion about retaining the assistants, in which case Bergeron’s staff – of which MU alum Barry Schutte is a member – could find itself unemployed when the vacated Bowling Green job is filled.
So it’s not exactly an empty netter for Bergeron.
Whatever decision he makes, Bergeron will always
be remembered for the part he played in vaulting Miami to a top-tier team last
decade, as well as leading Miami to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 1993
behind his 61-point season.
Then there’s the home schedule. Miami opens its
Cady Arena slate, coincidentally enough, against Bowling Green on Oct. 6.
Ferris State and New Hampshire will also visit
Oxford after finishing 57th and 33rd in the PairWise,
It’s pretty safe to assume BGSU will be a
home-and-home, so all we don’t know is the two TBA road opponents.
Miami last hosted the Falcons in 2016-17 and
has not played Ferris State since the CCHA dissolved. The RedHawks visited New
Hampshire this season and went 0-1-1.
First it was The Cincinnati Post. I covered the
Cincinnati Cyclones and Cincinnati Mighty Ducks for that paper as well as
countless other teams in other sports in my 11 years there. It went belly-up at
the end of 2007.
Then it was CNati.com, the creation of C. Trent Rosecrans, The Athletic’s beat writer for the Cincinnati Reds.
From there it was WCPO.com as I continued my
career with Scripps-Howard and tried to salvage the remaining Northern Kentucky
readership base from The Post.
I was honored to join Blog of Brotherhood in
2015 and learned a ton about building site pages.
But I want to create a forum of my my own to
post and store my intellectual property.
View From the Glass is a reference to the front-row season tickets we’ve had since Cady Arena opened in 2006.
I’ve only missed three games in that span: One
for a funeral and two in 2011 when I got married, which was in a Miami hockey sweater.
I plan to attack this site like I did with BoB, posting plenty of off-season news, in-season game reports, features and much more, plus Cathy will do her camera thing, providing in-game photos once the 2019-20 season starts.